: A Boy's Recollections OF THE Red Shirt Campaign Of 1 876 * In South Carolina Paper Read Before the Kosmos Club of Columbia, S. C. BY W. W. BALL January 21, 1911 Columbia, S. C. THE STATE CO.. PRINTERS 1911 ^^^^■^^^^^^^^^^^^^^■^^^^M ^^^M^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^H A Boy's Recollections Red\Shirt;CaMpaign Of 1 876 Jl In South Carolina Paper Read Before the Kosmos Club of Columbia, S. C. BY W. W. BALL January 21, 1911 Columbia, 5, C. THE STATE CO.. PRINTERS 1911 • * m a • • •■ ■ • * . . Extract From the Minut es Kosmos Club, January 21, 101L "The paper of the evening was by Mr, W W Ball and was entitled 'A Boy's Recollections of the Red Shirt Cam- paign (of 1876). It was voted by all present to be one of the best ever read before the Club. The reading of the paper was followed by the usual discussion, after which it was resolved, on motion of Professor Snowden, that Mr liall be requested to put his paper into shape for publication by the Club." * * * RED SHIRT CAMPAIGN OF 1876 My excuse for ihis itkmbllhg s^e'tch is that I have not had time to prepare a paper requiring .research. I must also apologize i'fori '$& Very fpefrsonap phaSaofejJ though I believe that the Club 'will perceive that' from its nature it could scarcely be other than personal. I purpose in the paper to describe, in some faint way, the picturesque side of one of the notable episodes in the history of the State, in the hope that something may be contributed to an understanding of it. Among my earliest recollections was an afternoon in the year 1873 or 1874, when, as night was coming on, my father (B. W. Ball), did not come home at the usual time — sun- down—and my mother, then a woman of 25 or 26, was in dread lest he had been arrested and flung in jail at the village of Laurens, a mile and a half distant, by the "Radicals." I shared in the dread. My father was a lawyer, but we were living on my maternal grandmother's plantation, which lay just north of the village, and my father was planting it with my grandmother, practicing his profession in the village at the same time. In October, 1870, on the morning following the general election, "the Riot" (people of Laurens to this day speak of it as "the Riot") had occurred. That affair would make a long story in itself. It must suffice here to say that it began on the court house square with the firing of a pistol, probably by design, possibly by accident. The negroes fled to the armory of the negro militia company, an old frame building called "Tinpot Alley," on the south side of the square. White men attacked the building, a negro showed his head on a balcony, a bullet fired from the square dropped him to the ground below. The hundreds of negroes deserted the building in panic and one or two were shot down in the village as they ran. Volney Powell, a handsome young carpetbagger from Ohio, who had been elected Pro- bate Judge the day before, and Bill Riley, a negro politician, set out for Newberry in the direction taken by a company of United States regulars, who had marched away at 4 o'clock L TT'- g "V' 116 bdief that dm &* <> f » n outbreak had W. T? lr ° b3 .? Ct WaS t0 h ™* the soldi ^ back to «TS / ™ ^^.W»f« they were overtaken and Med. Meanwhile, the;r^t,m ^e village had been turned into a negro chase, which covered practically the Sfi\ C TS ^Uk^W^W «*:<% and night, he first shot havorfg beeirfiM ab<*Lll o^ck'in, the morn- ing. At the time, my father was engaged in a trial in the court house. When the trouble begSfhe rushed out a,d took command of the white men, forming them into some ort of miht , ry der< ffis eff Qrts ^ ^ regtore 2 i^r^l 111 ' 11 aVe Said Since his death thafc «« slaughter would have been much greater but for his conduct. One of he men who behaved with great gallantry that day was iJ If ™ ' ^ UnCle by marria ^ of one of our mem- bers, Mr. Hoyt While the negroes were in "Tinpot" wlh their guns, and before they stampeded, Beard ran forward with an axe and was battering down the door of the armory when the negroes stampeded. He was without protection if the negroes had chosen to fire from the windows. He was a man or desperate courage. On the night of the riot 2,000 or more men congregated m Laurens coming from Union, Abbeville, Spartanburg, Newberry, Greenville and all the nearby counties, as well as from the length and breadth of Laurens. B v every high- way approaching the village they could be heard riding and yelling all the night long. Within foe minutes after the flight from the armory, not a negro or white Radical was to be seen anywhere, and it was two or three days before th^j began to steal out of the woods and swamps. Besides the one white man, eleven or twelve negroes were killed during the day and night at widely separated places in the county. Wade Perrin, a negro who had been elected to the Legislature the day before, was killed beyond the countv line, in Newberry, I think. I mention this affair in some detail (of course I do not remember it, as I was under two years old), because from that time the negroes in Laurens behaved themselves with seemliness, although their party continued in control until 1876. The cause of the riot was the intolerable political condition. Negroes, organized in militia and egged on by incendiary speakers, white and black, and with the presence of a Federal garrison to embolden them, had made' life unen- durable to the whites. Whether the firing of the pistol that started the fighting was by design or not, I do not know, but probably it was by design— some desperate white men hav- ing resolved to precipitate the inevitable conflict. None of the leading white men were privy to this design, if it existed. Anyway, the effect was salutary and lasting; in fact, it is still lasting. A few days later fifteen or twenty arrests of old men and youths, non-combatants most of them, were made by the Federal authorities, and the prisoners were brought to Columbia* One of them was the late Major John A. Leland, president of a girls' college in Laurens, who has told of the affair in a little book, "A Yoice From South Carolina.'' The active men — my father among them— disappeared and avoided arrest, visiting their friends in remote rural dis- tricts and going afishing. A few who were suspected of complicity in one or another of the homicides were driven from the State and compelled to absent themselves for sev- eral years. In some of these years my father was writing the editorial articles for the Lauremville Herald, and they were said to be of no very temperate character. The editorial policy was to denounce and ridicule the "Radicals" (no white person used the word "Republican" in those days), and so to hold the white men together and prevent the weak-kneed from going over to the enemy. In 1875, when we had moved to the village, I went to the postofllce for the mail late one afternoon, and while at the "delivery" window I saw leaning against a tree not far away a black frock-coated, saturnine looking old fellow. Sud- denly it dawned on me that he was Jake Collins (I use a nctictious name) and I scudded home as though a thousand devils were behind me. I was then six years old, and this man, the notorious white Radical leader of the county, was identical with my notion of the persons who fell victims to the prowess of "Jack the Giant Killer," and I S a Jack the Giant Killer." a That same summer the man was assassinated at the dawn buggy. Whether the motive of the assassination was Doliti heard that Collins was dead. There were those who said been on tt fi v "■? ****** *** and ^ ^d not nh L f ng lme m the war - He ha * inning in abundance and was dangerous only when not vi»oJuZ opposed He would have counted for nothing JSSS storm that swept the Eadicals out of existence fhe fe^t ~ Before the war he traded in negroes, so slavery tra ned a tormentor for the sons and daughters of the slaveholders In 1876 Laurens village, or perhaps it had not then shed ^i^"^* ^ a **^ of abtt 800 of whom 300 were negroes. By the State census of 1S75 the negro voting majority in the county was about 600, and the white vote was probably around 2,000. The one railroad had been abandoned after the war and restored dS year. In the late fall trains from Newberrv were Spptg at a point about four miles east of the village In December 1875, the State Central Committee of the Democratic party met and arranged for the reorganization of the party m the State by counties. My father was fSS?^* r T gaT f e LaUrens Count ^ In tte Ml of 1875 he had purchased a large and handsome brick residence in the incorporate limits of the town but situated three- quarters of a mile from the public square, and surrounded by native forest, so that it was completely isolated in the centre of a tract of more than a hundred acres, which included a small farm under cultivation. The place had been improved by the late Col. John D. Williams, one of the wealthy slaveholders of the up-country, and among the outhouses was the best barn in the county, with stalls for perhaps twenty horses. The first impression of the year 1876 that remains with me is that we began to have more company than usual at our house. It had always been the habit of my father to bring home his country friends and clients to spend the night occasionally, but as spring came there were one or two farmers at the house two or three times a week. These, as I now know, were influential men in their neighborhoods,' and, almost without exception, middle-aged and Confederate veterans. Politics was talked constantly, but of what was said I remember nothing. Then frequently and more frequently— sometimes more than once in the same week— my father would go out into the country to address Demo- cratic clubs. I recall dimly going to one place with him— Scuffletown— where he and others spoke to 75 or 100, per- haps 200 men, in a country store. I recollect nothing of the early days of the campaign, and nothing of the May State Convention, but when the August Convention was held that nominated General Hampton, events began to stamp them- selves on my mind. Perhaps my father's nomination for Circuit Solicitor excited my immediate interest in the cam- paign, for it then had, more than ever, a personal meaning to me and my mother, grandmother and three aunts who lived at our house. It is of some significance to recall now that this nomination was obtained over three influential lawyers in the judicial convention held in Columbia at the same time that the State Convention was held, because it shows that the nominations were not regarded as empty honors, and that the Democrats at that early stage were not only resolved, but expecting to win, About the same time, perhaps a few days before the State Convention, the County Convention named candidates for the legislative and other offices, and the contests for the nominations were somewhat heated. All of the nominees, I think, were Confederate veterans. From the time of the State Convention the hard riding began in Laurens. Practically every man went armed. Pistol carrying was a necessity in those days, and it should I 8 be observed that the habit was forced upon the people in the period of Reconstruction. When insolent negroes were marching the streets armed, and white scalawags were inflaming them with incendiary harangues, common pru- dence required that even the law-abiding and sober white men be prepared at all times to defend themselves and their families. These years doubtless made popular the evil cus- tom of carrying pistols, which so many of the people have not abandoned, and which is still a prolific source of crime. Exactly when the red shirt made its appearance in Lau- rens I do not know, but from August until after the election in November companies and squadrons of men were every two or three days coming into the village. Every man and youth, it seems to me now, must have been on horseback, galloping day and night. Nearly every night our house was more or less crowded with visitors from all parts of the county. A Bed Shirt Club from Cross Hill Township where my father was born and reared, was named in his honor, and a large proportion of its members, some of them prominent and others poor men, were connected with him by blood or marriage. Squadrons of these men at any hour of the day and night were in the habit of riding to the house, stabling their horses and mules and spending the night. Meantime the fear was not absent, at least from the women, that there would be trouble with the "Rads," and the news of a conflict would have startled, without surpris- ing, anyone. One day about noon, when I was playing in the backyard with a small cousin, and my mother and her sisters were in the kitchen, the "rebel yell" rang out in the woods near our front gate* From the noise it seemed to me that it came from a thousand throats, and I was sure that at last the "Rads" were upon us and that massacre was imminent. I ran frightened to the house and found my mother and the family terrified too, but, almost before the echo of the yell had died, it broke into "Three cheers for Mrs. Ball and the baby! 1 ', (my sister was about eight or nine months old) and we were all happy again. The yell had come from a party of about fifteen of the Cross Hill red shirts who had come over to the house for dinner. I relate these incidents with the object of impressing the plan of campaign. The county was perfectly organized. The essence of the plan was to make and maintain until the election should pass a continuing demonstration that would over-awe the Radicals without at any time doing them actual violence, unless actually necessary. So there was the everlasting thud of horses' hoofs and wild yelling on all the highways and in every corner of the county. The echoes seemed never to die, and they were punctuated, too, with pistol shots, at times, fired in the empty air. Except for the shadow of interference by Federal bay- onets, the winning of a victory, even in a county with a negro majority, would have presented no difficulties. Gen- eral Hampton knew, and all his trusted leaders knew, that the problem was to hold up to the gaze and din into the ears of the negroes the picture and sound and menace of war against them, without committing any overt acts of war Whenever the news would come of riot and bloodshed in another part of the State my father and his lieutenants talked gravely of the situation, and yet when the Radicals held meetings in Laurens the red shirts were there and there by orders, singing to the tune of "John Brown's Body," as they galloped into the very presence of the Radical speakers, "We'll hang Dan Chamberlain to a sour apple tree as we go marching home." Often they substituted the names of other prominent Radicals who were on hand to speak. To the cniving and badgering of the Radical speakers, there was no limit, and yet there was always restraint. Nobody was to be hurt and everybody was to be able to say that the peace had not been broken. In Laurens County no rioting occurred during the cam- paign. Some negroes were killed, but I do not know that there was a single homicide directly political in its origin. There were scores of rowdy and desperate young men, and the unremitting task of the older men was to prevent these from doing crimes that would provide a pretext for the declaration of martial law. In the village were at least sis or eight barrooms, open day and night, cotton was bringing 15 or 20 cents a pound, and the people had not learned to m save. Laurens County had two kinds of while niNirimi llie ruffians, or desperadoes mark, being II xco]i(Ioiin of whom the L. brothers, B. and T., were exnmploH of ■ Kind. They were men of good extraction, their pumilH having been well-to-do slaveholders, and they were such ohnr&Otori as are described in stories of the Far West. It. L., whor drinking, was dangerous to whites as well as to blnolci. [*Il was absolutely fearless and desperate, and scarcely burdened with a sense of responsibility, though a man of into] U go I do not know that any homicide was ever traced to llthov brother, but most homicides were not traced in [\mw limoH| and they were usually on hand where there wiih trouble, and were not unready to begin it anywhere. Yel men of their class were not without some fine instincts, imhI I do nol think that they would have shot a negro in cold bloodi One afternoon B. L. rode his horse up a flight of stalrri to tllfl second story of a brick building into the office of the LftU rensvtlle Herald, a deed typical of the Western OOWboyi One of the brothers afterwards went to the Far Woi I Montana or one of the Dakotas — and "died willi hil bootl on" as a sheriff or deputy sheriff. There was another kind of ruffian of whom I reeidl specimen. He was of humble origin, a brutal follow, whOj in the course of two years or less time, shot and lulled lix or seven negroes with little or no provocation. Me vvnuKI i a negro in the road and shoot him without jippiinMit online, None of these murders was political. Thin niim Ihmllv fled the State, remained in seclusion five <>r hIm \< d shortly afterwards died. He was never died for 1 1 1 w crimes. He had abundant courage of n low nrdt'l , I instinctive shrewdness enough not to cngftgci often With white antagonists. The L. boys and other* id' I Ink i|i flip tion were desperadoes, but quite as line in llioll WltJ II 111! outlaws of romance. Keturning to the campaign, there were nt oui' llOtl night twenty-three young countrymen, liwl Wilt 1 ) I twenty of them were drunk. They did mil ^v\ (lie will I i at the house. My father was careful Ihul nnlji I he Ntllltl Rlt<1 sober men had access to the decanier id I m, Iml Dm | lllll 11 loaded up in the village. One poor devil literally had to be carried from the supper table. All night long these young fellows sang and shouted in the upper floors of the house. I mention the incident to show that in such times respectable people were not punctilious about their guests, and these ]ads, every one of them, were welcome drunk or sober. So the galloping and riding and shooting went on, A brass band was organized for the campaign, and it is said to have learned to play with some success a single tune — possibly with less success, three or four. It went to the meetings everywhere in the county, and was quite as useful in interrupting the speeches of Eadicals at the right time as in inspiring Democratic enthusiasm. Some of its mem- bers were couriers as well as musicians, for the courier corps was a most important agency of the campaign. The sum- moning of Red Shirts over an area of TOO square miles and sometimes from neighboring counties, when there were no telephones or telegraph lines, called for lads not strangers to the saddle. Finally the day of the "Hampton meeting" approached. By this time I had acquired a red shirt which my grand- mother made for me, and of which I was immensely proud, save that the material of it was red calico instead of the regulation red flannel. The night before the meeting my grandmother carried me and a cousin to a friend's house on the other side of the village to see the campaign cavalcade come in from Union court house. The speakers and their escort were to arrive in the afternoon, but, stopping at various points on the way to address small crowds of Demo- crats, they did not arrive until far in the night, so we did not see them. We did see, though, the Greenville City company, which had ridden thirty-eight miles for the meeting. I remember that they were the first company of even semi- military men that I had ever seen, except "Yankees," in fact, until then I rather supposed the words "Yankee" and "sol- dier" synonymous. The company was commanded by Capt. V. E. (Bunch) McBee, later a prominent railroad man, and Dr. W. L. Mauldin, afterwards Lieutenant-Governor, and now Senator from Greenville County, was one of its officers. 12 General Hampton and the campaign party were mfll CoUl miles from Laurens by the local lied Hhirl.H mid escorted into the village. The sun rose next morning on such a day in the villus of Laurens as was never known before and lias not been I6en since. Long before daylight every road leading Into the town was crowded with buggies, wagons and men on lioi'BQ back. Every vehicle and every horse and mule in thfl OOUnty, and hundreds in the adjoining counties must have been called into service. Everybody was cheering and shouting. I was in a carriage with some of the women of my family, having, much to my sorrow, been refused the privi lege, on account of my youth, of riding in the Red Shirt procession. About 10 o'clock the procession formed on the public square and streets radiating from it. I had not divan in], until then, that there were so many men in the world or half so many horses and mules. Company after company, some of them stretching hundreds of yards, swept across thn square, every man yelling and cheering. Most of the com- panies — I suppose there must have been twenty of them — were uniformed in red shirts, but the shirts were not all alike. The cloth was red flannel, and in many instances it was elaborately trimmed with blue, and sometimes with yellow. Here and there was a marshal with plumed lint rind clanking sword, dashing from place to place and evidently feeling his importance immensely. In one or two cusps com- panies did not wear the red shirts, and T remember par ticularly seeing a company approaching a quarter <>f u milo down the street which seemed to be wearing white, Winn they came nearer it was revealed that they had Impro^ lied a uniform by shucking their coats and vests and C Ing In their shirt, sleeves. At least one other band than the Laurens organliatton that could play a single tune had been imported for thd occasion, and the martial music was abundant. Aflrr mi hour the procession moved towards a fores! on (lie ndllthoi " side of the town, where the meeting was to be held. II Wfll fully a mile in length, and the men rode in dole ordttl TltO 13 October day was dry, and the clouds of dust were thick to suffocation, but the procession was a glorious spectacle; at any rate, no military parade that I have seen since was so splendidly impressive to me, and I think I have seen as many as 30,000 soldiers at once passing under review. No 30,000 soldiers ever cheered more vociferously or incessantly. In many companies there were a few red shirted negroes, and they were the objects of a great deal of interest. It was estimated at the time that 2,300 mounted men were in line, but this was perhaps a slight exaggeration, as there were not more than that number of white voters in the county. However, hundreds of lads not of age wore red shirts and rode, and there were some hundreds of men, too, from other counties. The assemblage at the meeting was estimated at 5,000 and included some hundreds of women. The speaker's stand was decorated lavishly with flowers and there were rough slab seats in front of it. My father, as county chairman, presided and introduced the speakers, and he took me on the stand with him, to my boundless delight. Immediately in front of the stand some of the seats had been set apart for negroes. I remember General Hampton's speaking, but my atten- tion was not attracted by his calm and easy manner of address. It did not interest a small boy. In fact, the only speech that I recall was that of Col, D, Wyatt Aiken, the candidate for Congress, who told numerous anecdotes, one of which was about Eepublican puppies that were blind and Democratic puppies which "had their eyes open." I also remember that Col. W. D. Simpson, a Laurens man, the can- didate for Lieutenant-Governor and the most eloquent orator of the party, spoke and that at times his voice broke, evidently from over-straining at the previous meetings. The speaking, though, was a minor incident of the day, much as to hear it was the ostensible object of the gathering. The demonstration of the- man on horseback, designed to impress the negro mind, was the really important feature. General Hampton, Colonel Aiken and others appealed to the negro voters, but I doubt if the appeals were effective. The Red Shirts and the terrible "rebel yells" were the arguments that the Radicals understood. Mr. John S. Reynolds, in his "Reconstruction in South Carolina," tells how the cry "Hurrah for Hampton" resounded through South Carolina. To my ears the cry of "Hurrah" has ever seemed unnatural and jarring when used with any other name than "Hampton" since those days. At our breakfast table nest morning Capt. "Bunch" McBee related that when he rode to the house at midnight with half a dozen other guests of ours, he called "Mjulison Allen," a negro man, an ex-slave of the family, to put their horses in the stalls. Now "Mad" was the owner of a mule named "Mike," distinguished for its lively heels. "Mad," Captain McBee said, "was reluctant to enter the stable. 'Why don't you go on and put up these horses?' said McBee. 'Boss, I'se scared of that mule of mine,' replied Madison, 'he'll kick. 5 "'Whoever heard of a mule that would kick the nigger that owns him? Go on and put up the horses,' said McBee. "Mad still hesitated. " 'Go on in with the horses, you black rascal I' said McBee, growing impatient, 'you know the mule won't kick his master.' "'Lordy, boss,* responded Mad, 'you don't know nofhuf about dat mule, dat mule would kick anybody — dat mule would kick Hampton.'" The story went the rounds of the campaign thereafter, and it aptly illustrated the idolatrous regard in Which Gen oral Hampton had come to be held. It was the irony of fate that within less than two years another irreverent mulfe'l heels cost General Hampton a leg and almost his li fc. There was no relaxation of enthusiasm in Laurens iiflrr the great Hampton day. The Red Shirts incessantly POdfl in small and large bodies. Governor Chamberlain oaiM to Laurens and spoke, and the Red Shirts made his day warm for him, but they did not hurt him. I have heard my father pa yj by the way, that whatever might be said to Chamber Iain's discredit, cowardice was not his weakness, lie win always cool and courageous under trying ehvimishinnvi. 15 In respect to the quality of courage, there was a young South Carolinian named McGill Fleming, the incumbent Solicitor of the Seventh Circuit and the candidate for re-election against my father. He was addicted to whiskey and other vices that had dragged him low, but he was a thoroughbred and a man of fine talent. On account of my father's candidacy the feeling against him was espe- cially intense in Laurens, One night during the campaign when Fleming was at a hotel in Laurens, a gang of a dozen or more Red Shirts, country boys, surrounded him and denounced him, sang ribald songs in his face and insulted him in every way they could devise. Fleming, so I heard at the time from a cousin of ours, himself a rather reckless and dangerous man, who saw the affair, cursed his persecu- tors and challenged them to fight him — one at a time. It was said that his courage saved him, though the Red Shirts probably knew better than to hurt him. It would have been imprudent. Degraded as the brilliant young scalawag was, his breeding asserted itself and he could not be daunted. Of course, this sort of conduct from the young Red Shirts was without the approbation and contrary to the orders of my father and others in charge of the campaign, but it could not altogether be prevented. The wonder is that the direc- tors of the campaign succeeded in restraining the boys at all. Although diligent and persevering efforts were made to convert negroes to the Hampton standard, they met with indifferent success. The few dozen or hundred that voted the Democratic ticket in Laurens were, as a rule, trifling, lazy, and careless fellows, who lived by tips from their white friends rather than by labor. With rare exceptions, the bet- ter as well as the more intelligent negroes remained stead- fast Republicans. Many of them refrained from voting, but they did not become Democrats. The persuasive method was not effective with them. I do not think that in the election of 1876 frauds were numerous in Laurens, but undoubtedly there was intimida- tion. I personally heard of but one case of bribery. A gang of half a dozen negroes were engaged in boring a well at our house when election day approached. On the day preceding 10 17 my mother offered each and all of them who would report at the house before 7 o'clock, the hour of opening the polls, and remain until after the polls closed, without doing any work, unless they wished, $5.00 in gold. The virtue of :iil the members of the gang was impregnable except that of one Gil Garlington, and the money alone did not corrupt him. "If," said Gil, after pondering the offer, "the missus will give me, besides the $5.00, all the sweet 'tater custards I can eat tomorrow, I'll come." The amendment was accepted. Gil was faithful to his bargain, got the gold piece and the custards. While I have never been disposed to criticise the ethical quality of my mother's assault on the purity of a South Carolina election, I have entertained some doubts of the wisdom of the investment. I fancy that Gil sold his abstention from political activity in 1S7G at a higher price than any other Radical in the county received. Numbers of negroes were told that if they voted the Radical ticket they would need other homes and employ- ment, but this, I think, had little effect upon them. The American negro takes no thought of the morrow, and hia faith that pasturage will last is childlike and unshakable. The negroes, thousands of them, did not vote, and there was a reason. The Red Shirt riders was the reason — not anxiety as to the wherewithal they should be fed and clothed. True, the endeavor of the whites to persuade and convince the negroes of the wisdom of voting the Democratic ticket was diligent and persevering, but it was unavailing to an extent that materially affected results. On the night before election day hundreds of negroes were assembled by their leaders in the coxirt room of the county court house and there they were kept throughout the night. The next morning early they were marched down stairs to the polling place, which was at a window of one of the lower floor court house offices. The voter approached the window from the court house square and deposited his ballot in the box placed on the low window sill. The negroes sur- rounded, or attempted to surround, the polling place, and there was a great crowd of them. There were also many white men, and a fair sprinkling of them had Winchester repeating rifles in their hands, while others had them con- veniently placed in stores nearby. On a hill 500 yards away, and not in sight, a company of United States regulars were in camp. They had been sent to Laurens, as they were sent to other towns where the contest was expected to be close. The presence of these soldiers was, of course, the grave factor in the problem to the Democrats. To avoid a collision with them and at the same time to carry the election, pre- sented a nice puzzle for solution. As events indicated, it is likely that the officers in command of the troops were not without a correct understanding of a situation delicate to them as well as to the Democrats. At any rate, their behavior was eminently discreet. In the early hours as the negroes crowded about the poll- ing place the white men jeered and nagged them. In a little while two stalwart and well armed young farmers, of no especial reputation as peacekeepers (though both are now serious-minded and deeply religious men, and have been for years), became engaged in a lively fight. There were loud words and drawn weapons, and friends took sides, so that a bloody affray seemed imminent. The fight was a ruse. The two men were sworn friends, and are to this day. It was, in a later day slang, a "frame-up" designed to create a diver- sion, and it served its purpose. The neighborhood became uninviting to some of the negroes. By the time peace had been restored a squad of about twenty-five mounted Red Shirts galloped yelling onto the square, coming from some remote part of the county. As they rode they fired pistols in the air — always in the air — and in a few minutes the^y were gone, riding madly for some other voting precinct. They did no one the slightest injury. With all their wild cheer- ing they were bent on peace. Fifteen minutes or half an hour later another company from another direction rode into the village in a sweeping gallop, firing their pistols in the same way, and in a few minutes they, too, were gone, with a clatter of hoofs and bursts of "Hurrah for Hampton !" These parties continued to arrive at intervals during the day, and in perhaps two hours the Radical party had dispersed and scarcely one of its colored members was to be seen. That 18 was the simple process by which the election was carried in Laurens County, and it cost no lives and no blood. There were deputy United States marshals in Laurens too, and early in the morning two or three of them appeared at the polling place. They were quietly buttonholed by a few Democrats who, with the necessary though quiet emphasis, told them that they must leave the court house square and not be visible again that day. They obeyed. One of their interviewers was, I have been told, the "B, L." whom I have heretofore mentioned, and others were men of his type. The talk with these marshals was a business talk, and contained not the slightest ingredient of bluff. Had one of the officers been willing to sacrifice his life the course of events might have been changed. There was not the slightest purpose on the part of the Democrats to do any man bodily harm ; that was what they were trying to avoid, and the only danger was that some reckless youth or half drunken man would disobey orders. That would have seriously upset plans. Yet in certain emer- gencies and contingencies real fighting was contemplated as a last resort. A brother of my mother, who was barely of age in 1876, told me recently that early on the morning of the election my father called him aside and told him pri- vately that the Federal soldiers in town were not to be dis- turbed, they were to be left severely alone — "unless they interfered. If they come over here from their barracks and hurt any of our people," said the county chairman to his young brother-in-law, "we are going to kill them." That desperate resolution, I have no doubt, had been maturely considered and arrived at by the leaders, and I suppose thai- similar procedure had been agreed upon everywhere in the State. It was doubtless part of the general plan. The sol diers occupied themselves with their own devices throughout the day and came no nearer to the polling place. I have no doubt, though I do not know it, that the method of fighting them had been planned with military precision and that n sufficient number of tried men had been entrusted with the execution of the project, if occasion arose, to overwhelm him I slaughter practically the whole company. T repeat (hat my 19 impression is that this was to be the resort everywhere in the State if the necessity for it appeared, but it is to be borne always in mind that the plans were so made that only pru- dent, cautious and dependable men of experience were informed of it. The young man who told me of my father's conversation would not have been taken into the latter 's confidence except that he was a member of his family. The young bloods of the land would have put the fat in the fire. The Democrats carried Laurens County by more than 1,100 majority, and it will be remembered that it was the refusal of the State Board of Canvassers to issue certificates of election to the Democratic candidates for the House of Representatives from Laurens and Edgefield that caused the dual Houses, under rival speakers, General W. H. Wal- lace and E. W. M. Mackey, and the dual government lasting in Columbia until President Hayes withdrew the troops from the State House in April, 1877, For two or three days, perhaps longer, reports of the results of the election were conflicting and the tension was great, but at last it seemed certain that the Democrats had won— the contest in Columbia not then being foreseen — and naturally there was wild rejoicing. Anvils were loaded with powder and iired, and there was a great torch-light proces- sion, in which hundreds of Red Shirts participated. About S o'clock on the evening that the news of the victory was confirmed, we heard from our house a band playing and cheering in Main street, and a little later we knew that the townspeople were serenading Colonel Simpson, who had been elected Lieutenant-Governor. His house was about half a mile distant from ours, and a family consultation was immediately held as to ways and means of entertaining the boys if they should come to serenade my father. It hap- pened that the larder was stocked with eggs that had been brought by a member of the family from the mountains in Greenville County where she had been spending a part of the summer, so an egg-nog was determined upon. In a few minutes the crowd was heard moving towards our house, and such an egg-beating as then took place was probably never equalled in the county. My father was, of course, 20 called on for a speech, and he was compelled to continue speaking, messages being slyly sent to him, until the nog was ready, lest the crowd disperse prematurely. I distinctly recall that seven dozen eggs— less three — went into the nog, including a special nog for one young man who was unwill- ing to have whiskey in his, but would take a glass flavored with vanilla. Presumably that young man was the original Laurens prohibitionist- The whiskey dispensaries have been banished from the county by Democratic votes in recent years. Having tried to draw a picture, not entirely colorless, of this stirring period in the State's history, there are some conclusions, I think, that follow from it if the picture is true. I do not believe that General Hampton understood the nature of the campaign which he successfully led and which no other living man could have led to victory. Gen- eral Hampton was a sincere man, and was convinced that the negroes could be persuaded to vote for him. His idea was that conciliatory approaches could restore the old-time feeling between former slave and master, and I suspect that he believed throughout his life that the negro largely con- tributed to the election of his ticket. As I have already intimated, the main scheme of the campaign was a huge bluff. The negroes were to be impressed by a terrific dis- play of force, and yet no such force was to be exerted as would furnish the Grant administration with pretext to employ coercive measures. As I have also intimated, the bluffing would have ceased in a last dire emergency, and the white people would have fought, had they been driven to it, rather than yield. There was no other man in the State except Wade Hampton, in whose courage, judgment and disinterestedness the people had entire confidence. Goaded 1o madness as they had been, they could have been restrained from the folly of violence by no other leader. They obeyed him because the feeling for him was a fervent and yet some- what far off adoration. General Hampton was never so close to the masses of the people as were some of his lieu- tenants, General Butler, for example, and yet, for that very reason, his hold on them in a time of extreme stress was the 21 stronger. Consequently, in after years when the need for a man of General Hampton's unrivalled qualities was not felt, his services were for the moment, with a fickleness charac- teristic of a people whose passions are easily aroused, rejected. My father often expressed to me the opinion that General Hampton's military prowess and the inflexible firm- ness of his character were so well known throughout the country that when he said that he would be Governor, at the time Chamberlain was disputing his election, President Grant, President Hayes and their advisers knew that to resist was to precipitate war, and that the declaration of no other South Carolinian would have so impressed them. The white Democrats of South Carolina in 1876 were com- posed of two classes — Confederate veterans and the genera- tion of young men who were born too late to serve in the War Between the States. The veterans were in the prime of life and vigor, A man who was 25 in 1861 was 41 in 1876. These men were probably the most experienced and effective body of veteran soldiers in the world. They had known war in its every phase and aspect. They had learned in its hard school how to obey orders, and they were familiar with all the ways of campaigning. They were resourceful, alert and self-contained, capable of handling, under direc- tion of their old officers, the most delicate situations not only with consummate courage, but with consummate prudence. They could lead charges when it was wise to charge, and they could lie still and wait when to wait was the word. Of the young men, on the other hand, there was scarcely one in whose breast did not lurk a vague feeling that the fates had cheated him out of his own, in that he had not had the opportunity to be a soldier, and a condition of affairs that had many points in common with a state of war was an extreme stimulus to their patriotism and enthusiasm. The chance even in some small way to prove' their mettle to their fathers and brothers was not to be lost, so they were easily mustered and organized for the peculiar and extra- ordinary political campaign required to redeem the com- monwealth. In the rarest instances was any act of reckless- i>;) ness or violence done by an old soldier, and, but for these old soldiers, the youths would have been uncontrollable. General Hampton's lieutenants were, almost without exception, ex-officers of the Confederate armies, and they were educated men of the highest order of intelligence. They were in the closest sympathy and association with the veterans of their former commands, and no other group of men could have managed the kind of campaign that the times demanded— the sustained demonstration of force for aix months with the steady refraining from actual violence. When one thinks of the incomparable superiority in morale of the white men of 1876 over the poor negroes and few degraded whites who flocked with them, the fight that they made seems child's play, but when it is remembered that it was won in the face of Federal bayonets under the orders of a government that crushed the South only eleven years before, it takes on another and quite different character. As I have said, there were in Laurens and elsewhere in the State some exhibitions of ruffianism and some murders done in 1876, but these were seldom directly connected with pol- itics. At the same time they had a marked influence, anil the occasional ugly proof that white men could shoot straight and would shoot quickly, contributed to the demor- alizing of the negro party. While crimes are not to be extenuated, it is none the less a fact that in some measure we were beneficiaries of those done in a period that was akin to a state of war. Notwithstanding this, nothing eould be more unfair I South Carolina than the placing of exaggerated stress I frauds and intimidation done by the white people, Indei I doubt if the frauds in Laurens County or in most of 111 counties were considerable. The whites merely took ad van tage of the fact that the negroes could be frightened h noise and display, and little more than such demonstration were required to insure success. The unfairness <>l OXftf gerating the frauds and intimidation lies in that thfl methods were initiated by the Republicans. The llepu licans introduced the tissue ballot. In the southern coiinl ' where the negroes were in the overwhelming innjorll HI n the ballot boxes were stuffed by Republican voters, and frauds in the counting were numerous. Granting that the Democrats were none too scrupulous in their -observance of the proprieties and that they did not offer to the world an impressive picture of high-minded conduct in the election of 1876, it must not be forgotten that their adherence to virtuous methods would have been equivalent to uncondi- tional surrender. Fraud and intimidation (the latter in localities where the whites were few and the negroes were emboldened by the presence of the military) had been regu- larly resorted to by the Radicals for several years, and, at worst, the Democrats opposed them with their own weapons. The election machinery, the courts and every department of the government being in the hands of the Radicals, the Democrats were manifestly powerless to compel a fair elec- tion. Even some Southern orators, in their eagerness to emphasize the inevitableness of the supremacy of the whites in the South, neglect to point out that the Reconstruction governments blazed the way for the Democrats to employ wrongful expedients and practically compelled it, with the alternative of forever turning the left cheek when the right was smitten. In the absence of suffrage restrictions at the time, the negro voters were in a heavy majority, but in their ignorance, and under leadership entirely depraved, they were not in the habit of relying upon it, with the result that they created the opportunity of the white minority, stronger in courage and greater in intelligence, to overcome them without violating the rules by which they were themselves playing the game. In a spirit of vulgar boastfulness South- ern speakers have actually steered sometimes towards the con- clusion that there was nothing in the election methods of the carpetbaggers and scalawags to excuse the means adopted by the Democrats, and that the Democrats must rest their case solely on the assertion of the natural right of the superior race to rule. The truth of the latter proposition is not assailed when it is said that the Democratic campaign of 1876 in South Carolina would have been amply justified without any reference to it and on the ancient ground that it is legitimate to fight the devil with fire.